A twin car bombing in Nigeria Tuesday killed at least 118 people, with emergency workers continuing to comb through the rubble of the powerful blasts that struck the crowded Terminus Market in the city of Jos, located in the center of Africa’s most heavily populated country.
In a particularly sinister twist, the unknown bombers set off the second blast about 30 minutes after the first, in what appears to be an effort to kill rescue workers and halt efforts to aid the wounded from the initial bombing.
The militant organization Boko Haram, which has waged a campaign of terror inside Nigeria for the past five years, is already considered the top suspect in the latest bombing. If the self-styled jihadist group already believed responsible for more than 10,500 deaths inside Nigeria is indeed behind the twin bombing, the attack would rank among their deadliest strikes.
Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls last month, girls whose fate remains largely unknown, which in recent weeks has led to worldwide attention and media coverage not normally afforded to the internal affairs of any African country.
The Jos bombing would also mark an ominous expansion of Boko Haram’s deadly reach, where until now only a few of the terror group’s attacks have extended beyond the poorly governed northeast region of Nigeria.
The first bombing hit at about 3 pm Nigeria time — or 10 am U.S. Eastern Time. The next blast went off at 3:30.
“The first IED (improvised explosive device) was in a truck. The second was in a minibus,” said Nigeria State Task Force spokesperson Kingsley Egbo, following the second bombing. “The market was really crowded, We are having a problem of crowd control. The emergency services have evacuated the casualties.”
“We are still searching through the smoldering debris for more bodies,” said Mohammed Abdulsalam, of the Nigeria National Emergency Management Agency. “The figure may rise when the search is over.”
While Boko Haram, nor any group, has yet been named as an official suspect in the Tuesday double bombing, Chris Olakpe, commissioner of the Nigeria State of Plateau termed the bombing “terrorist activities.”
Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan called the deadly bombing “a tragic assault on human freedom” carried out by “cruel and evil” perpetrators.
The area where the bombing happened is a mostly Christian district of Jos. Many Muslims in Nigeria view the Jonathan presidency as illegitimate because of an unwritten agreement that the Nigeria top office should be rotated between Muslims and Christians. Jonathan took over from a Muslim president who died halfway through his four-year term.
[Images Via Reuters And AFP]